A Cuppa Cosy Reads – June 2021

Somehow it is the end of the month already! At halfway through 2021, how did THAT happen? I feel like this year, unlike last, is flying by. So many things to get done and not nearly enough time to do them, and that includes reading all the books I want to read this year! We’ll be talking through some of those next week when I do the Mid-Year Book Freak Out Tag, BUT this week we are focusing on the books that I’ve read in the month of June. Overall, I read a total of 11 books with an average rating of 3.46.

Let’s get into then, shall we?

Anne of Green Gables, the Graphic Novel Adapted by Mariah Marsden (PURCHASE) 4 Stars This was just darling. Whether you’re familiar with the story of Anne or not, this was a lovely adaptation that I enjoyed in an afternoon on the porch with a cup of tea. 

Plain Bad Heroines by Emily M Danforth (PURCHASE) 3 Stars Ah this book, where do I begin? In this book you are, at the heart, following a school/parcel of land and its…questionable haunting activities. Set in two timelines, one when the school was open and one in present day when a movie is being filmed about the goings on at the school and a cast of about 6 women at the heart of the story. I enjoyed the premise and even the set up (a book about a movie about a book), BUT I think this could have greatly benefited from being a duology. One book to the past timeline and the happenings at the school, and a second book about the present-day filming and hauntings. When smashed together in one book it felt a bit…rushed and not quite fleshed out fully. 

A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine (PURCHASE) 3.5 Stars This one is a conflict in my own head over the rating. In this story we are following a young woman who has recently become the ambassador to a foreign empire. From the moment she lands she is thrust into political upheaval as the empire struggles against itself AND a murder mystery she must solve before she is killed next. I really loved this book after about 150 pages. At one point I thought this book might be a bit too political (which is saying A LOT), but once I gained an understanding off the underlying speech, and the book narrowed down its’ focus, the story became really enjoyable. 

The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman (PURCHASE) 4 Stars Well, this was just the quaintest little story. In The Thursday Murder Club, we are following a small retirement community and 4 of its 70 yr. old + residents as they attempt to solve a series of murders. Let me tell you, the plot is OK, but the characters are classic and will keep you going through the story. 

The Hidden Palace by Helene Wecker (PURCHASE) 5 Stars This was one of my most anticipated releases of the year and I’ll just leave it at…it did not disappoint. I love that our characters were pushed farther, new characters were introduced (on all sides), old characters came back, the world widened, and every single character was confronted with their worst possible selves. It was brilliant. It also, once again like the first one, was left in a way that could welcome yet another OR could be finished. I’m good either way. 

Banned Book Club by (PURCHASE) NR This was a story about a young girl in South Korea who attends college in the hopes of studying literature. What she founds is an underground resistance movement of other young people who want to truly learn about the world around them, beyond the government propaganda. What follows is a series of clashes with government inspectors and employees as the students fight back more and more. This was such a good and important read and I highly recommend it. It’s based on real instances, though specifics have been changed to protect individuals. 

Answered Prayers by Truman Capote (PURCHASE) 2 Stars I consider myself a fan of Truman Capote. I loved In Cold Blood and Summer Crossing and enjoyed Breakfast at Tiffany’s. I had heard this book referenced repeatedly in Plain Bad Heroines as a muse, so I decided to pick it up. Unfortunately, I found this to be the bitter, intoxicated ramblings of a man at the edge. I know the history of it (he started it before he found fame, re wrote it after In Cold Blood and other stories, and ultimately never finished it) and found the introduction to be quite helpful in understanding the chapters, BUT that did not change my overall reading experience and opinion, which was decidedly NOT good. 

The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune (PURCHASE) 3 Stars This book is…tough. I think it’s important to understand the controversy that surrounds the book itself currently. TJ Klune has mentioned that he had a loose idea of the plot, but then took quite a fair amount of inspiration from the 60’s sweep (referring to the Residential Schools for Indigenous People) as well as various other events that had people be “rounded up” and ostracized into boarding facilities for being “different”. So, we need to acknowledge that this book is steeped in some very real pain and trauma, and we need to learn about what happened with the residential schools, as well as what happened with ICE detentions and other “round up” situations. HOWEVER, I think that this book being told from the perspective of a “government worker” who believes he is doing the best for the kids and seeing him change his perspective, for so much of the story to be steeped in this “feel good” and “be kind and accepting” is also important to note. My good reads review has SO MUCH more information and thoughts and can be read <a href="http://<a href="https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/45047384-the-house-in-the-cerulean-sea&quot; style="float: left; padding-right: 20px"><img border="0" alt="The House in the Cerulean Sea" src="https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1569514209l/45047384._SX98_.jpg&quot; /></a><a href="https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/45047384-the-house-in-the-cerulean-sea">The House in the Cerulean Sea</a> by <a href="https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5073330.T_J_Klune">T.J. Klune</a><br/> My rating: <a href="https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/4070176770">3 of 5 stars</a><br /><br /> I think it’s important to note a couple of things about this book, so this might be a bit longer than my normal reviews. <br /><br />First off, we must address where the inspiration comes from for the story. TJ Klune has talked about the fact that he had a character and a rough idea for the story, but it became fully developed as he learned about the 60’s sweep and looked at a variety of different residential schools, ICE facilities, and other detainment/assimilation places. While I would not necessarily critique where authors get inspiration from (as that would be futile as books have been written about a variety of different traumatic events), I think it’s important to understand the history of residential schools and recognize that there is a very real, very current trauma surrounding the inspiration for this story. <br /><br />However, we should not immediately brush the book aside because there are A LOT of excellent conversations had in the story, and an over arching commentary/feeling about kindness and difference. There is something to be said for framing the story from a government workers perspective, a pencil pusher in so many words, who realizes that maybe his own opinions, what he thought was best and right, isn’t in fact what is best and right. <br /><br />It’s also important to note that while the “orphanage” did feel very much like it’s real life equivalent and there wasn’t quite a…”happy ending” beyond what was presented (and what we would have probably all preferred to see), that it was not directly representative of what it drew inspiration from, and yet still realistic in that change doesn’t come about immediately and in the way we want or think is fair. <br /><br />Ultimately, anyones thoughts and commentary on this book are their own and are valid in their own way. <br /><br />While I am rating this book a solid 3 Stars, I can see why/how it earned such a high rating. The story is heartwarming and feel good. If you are concerned about the inspiration then do some additional reading and learning about the 60’s sweep, residential schools, and the trauma of the Indigenous peoples and First Nations (as I will be doing). <br/><br/> <a href="https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/41246937-a-cuppa-cosy">View all my reviews</a>" data-type="URL" data-id="<a href="https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/45047384-the-house-in-the-cerulean-sea&quot; style="float: left; padding-right: 20px"><img border="0" alt="The House in the Cerulean Sea" src="https://i.gr-assets.com/images/S/compressed.photo.goodreads.com/books/1569514209l/45047384._SX98_.jpg&quot; /></a><a href="https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/45047384-the-house-in-the-cerulean-sea">The House in the Cerulean Sea</a> by <a href="https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5073330.T_J_Klune">T.J. Klune</a><br/> My rating: <a href="https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/4070176770">3 of 5 stars</a><br /><br /> I think it’s important to note a couple of things about this book, so this might be a bit longer than my normal reviews. <br /><br />First off, we must address where the inspiration comes from for the story. TJ Klune has talked about the fact that he had a character and a rough idea for the story, but it became fully developed as he learned about the 60’s sweep and looked at a variety of different residential schools, ICE facilities, and other detainment/assimilation places. While I would not necessarily critique where authors get inspiration from (as that would be futile as books have been written about a variety of different traumatic events), I think it’s important to understand the history of residential schools and recognize that there is a very real, very current trauma surrounding the inspiration for this story. <br /><br />However, we should not immediately brush the book aside because there are A LOT of excellent conversations had in the story, and an over arching commentary/feeling about kindness and difference. There is something to be said for framing the story from a government workers perspective, a pencil pusher in so many words, who realizes that maybe his own opinions, what he thought was best and right, isn’t in fact what is best and right. <br /><br />It’s also important to note that while the “orphanage” did feel very much like it’s real life equivalent and there wasn’t quite a…”happy ending” beyond what was presented (and what we would have probably all preferred to see), that it was not directly representative of what it drew inspiration from, and yet still realistic in that change doesn’t come about immediately and in the way we want or think is fair. <br /><br />Ultimately, anyones thoughts and commentary on this book are their own and are valid in their own way. <br /><br />While I am rating this book a solid 3 Stars, I can see why/how it earned such a high rating. The story is heartwarming and feel good. If you are concerned about the inspiration then do some additional reading and learning about the 60’s sweep, residential schools, and the trauma of the Indigenous peoples and First Nations (as I will be doing). <br/><br/> <a href="https://www.goodreads.com/review/list/41246937-a-cuppa-cosy">View all my reviewsHERE. 

A Dead Djinn in Cairo by P. Djeli Clark (PURCHASE) NR This is a novella that takes place just prior to A Master of Djinn and does a little bit of the set-up work for the book. As I’m writing this, I’m about halfway through Master of Djinn and I don’t know how necessary it is for you to read this first (which is why I read it first). It provides context and background, but not more than you would get throughout the book itself. 

No Exit by Taylor Adams (PURCHASE) 3.5 I don’t have too much to say about the next two books, except that they were solid thrillers. Neither was a standout, but I would say I think I probably got a bit more of the heart pounding thriller vibes from this one more. The premise is that there are strangers stranded in a snowstorm at a middle of nowhere rest stop. 5 Strangers and one little girl locked in a cage in a van. Where did she come from and who can you trust? 

The Guest List by Lucy Foley (PURCHASE) 3.5 Stars This was the last book that I finished in June, and it was a solid way to end the month. I enjoyed the premise and I definitely think this is a good twist and turn kind of thriller, but I didn’t feel the fear or ticking clock or atmosphere of the book as I did with No Exit. 

Finally, two final books to mention. I am currently reading A Master of Djinn by P Djeli Clark and while I’m not loving it per se (and I’ve stopped and started throughout), I’m not hating it either. We have also started reading some more chapter books with the boys, starting with the Magic Tree House Series. They’ve quickly fallen in to reading a chapter or two before bed and are excited to read more of them (the other night consisted of “one more chapter mommy”). 

So, that rounds up my month in reading! What about you? Any new favorites?

A Cuppa Cosy Reads – June 2020

Once again, we’ve reached the end of another month and it’s time to talk about all the books I read in June…or lack thereof. I feel like June wasn’t my best reading month as I was solo parenting for a good amount of it, there were numerous other things needing my attention, and I read a couple whoppers of a book (aka longer tomes). None the less, I am here today to talk about some of those books that I’ve read. Since this post is going up a few days before the end of the month, I’ll also be including my current read as I will be finishing that before the end of the month as well. 

Murder in the Mystery Suite by Ellery Adams (Purchase) 4.5/5 Murder in the Mystery Suite is the first book in a series of “cozy mysteries”. We follow along with a young mom as she learns that the life she had always known was a “cover” for her family history. Secret societies, books, murder and mystery follow and each book raises the stakes. These are just quick, easy, “feel good” mysteries. 

Who Do you Serve, Who Do You Protect? Police Violence and Resistance in the United States Edited by Maya Schenwar, Joe Macare, and Alana Yu-Lan Price (Purchase) NR This is a collection of essays about police brutality and race in regard to police brutality. It was incredibly eye opening, brutally honest, and just a hard, but important read. I highly recommend if you are looking for a book that will break down a lot of the issues that happen with police custody and BIPOC. 

The One by John Marrs (Purchase) 5/5 If you want a roller coaster of a thriller, with a unique premise, this is the book for you. In The One we follow five characters in a world where you are able to find your genetic soulmate. Scientists have isolated a strand of DNA that tells you exactly who you were meant to spend your life with. The only problem? It is focused on the genetic aspect, not the WHO of each person. As these five characters find their match, lives unravel and change in a heartbeat. An absolutely incredible book, this one will keep you reading late into the night. 

Murder in the Paperback Parlor by Ellery Adams (Purchase) 4.5/5 This is the second book to Murder in the Mystery Suite and this one was my favorite mystery out of the three I’ve read in this series. I’m not going to say too much as this is a series that builds upon itself, even though the mysteries are different. What I will say is that I love this setting and the concept of the stories and it’s just a joy to read each one. 

Beloved by Toni Morrison (Purchase) 5/5 Beloved is the story of a slave woman during and after the Civil War and her life. It is incredibly difficult to read, both in part due to the storytelling, but also due to the atrocities she experienced and lived through. Her trauma comes through in every single page. This is such a good read, laying out the facts of what she went through (in a different way than the police brutality book), and then her PTSD from those atrocities. It is not a book I was able to read straight through, I had to put it down about halfway through, read something light, and then go back to it, but it was very much worth reading. 

The Well of Ascension by Brandon Sanderson (Purchase) 4/5 This is the second book in the Mistborn trilogy, and I waited all month to read it, and it was well worth that wait. We pick up a year after The Final Empire and the action starts right on page 1. I loved the deepening of the world, the new lore that was discovered throughout, as well as the politics and intrigue that was going on. I will say, similar to The Final Empire, there were parts that lagged and were tough to get through, but the last third of the book was nonstop. 

And finally, I am currently reading Murder in the Mystery Suite by Ellery Adams (Purchase) and, of course, loving being back at Storyton Hall. As of writing this, I’ve only just started, but these are quick easy reads, so I anticipate finishing this up in a day or two at the most.